Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: XebiaLabs Blog, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Java IoT, Machine Learning

Java IoT: Article

How to Go from Geek to Manager

You've got the job now what do you do?

You're six-feet, 190 pounds and can type System.out.println faster than most people can say AJAX. You're a person who dreams about the Milwaukee Brewers winning the World Series and the correct data structure to be used when talking about a baseball player. You've spent five years of your life writing Java code and leading Java development teams. You consider yourself an expert in Swing, Struts, XML, and XSL-FO and feel comfortable talking about any other buzzword in the Java world such as JSF, Portal, and AJAX. You've had experience as development lead on a team with anywhere from three to seven people where Java applications were rolled into production well within the scheduled deadline. Now you have received a management position on an internal Java development team. Where do you start? What things do you look at from day one? What's your role going to be as a manager? What would you like to see happen within your team? Do you want to keep your technical skills? How do you rate your employees at the end of the year?

These are just some of the question's that you'll have to answer.

Fortunately, I'm the Brewers fan who just got a new first-line management position. The team that I'm managing consists of 18 employees with skillsets ranging from Java Swing development to J2EE Web development. The main point of our existence is to create, support, fix and build tools inside IBM for a number of platforms. A number of small tools have already been developed that use Swing technology for the front-end. The small tools end up communicating with DB2 systems on the back-end and start a number of native back-end processes depending on the back-end servers' platform. The team has also created a Web application that lets internal developers create a fix pack of a particular product. These are examples of just a couple of the many Java tools that my department is responsible for.

Now back to the questions at hand. Where does a manager start when taking over a Java development team? These are just a couple of the things that concerned me when coming in as manager of a Java development team.

Who's Doing What?
Every manager has to understand what the main responsibility of the team is. Once that's understood then the next question to answer is, who is working on achieving that goal. What positions have been defined in the department to carry out the team's primary responsibility? For instance, do you have developers working on a single application from the beginning to end or do you have each software development process task broken down among different employees. Once you understand the tasks that everyone is working on, does it matter how they're done? For example, the team that I'm managing has application owners who are responsible for the entire development process lifecycle for a particular application. An application owner would have to gather the new requirements that come in, create a design that fits into the existing application design, develop, unit test, and do the production test. And if an external customer discovers a problem with the tool it's their responsibility to fix it.

Some things I've heard from the group is that testing all our small tools is quite expensive. Every small tool is dependent on each other. New functionality added to one of them may have an impact on another, thus causing all application owners to test their code before it's released.

From a resource perspective this really scares me. You wouldn't like your most experienced developers spending a lot of time on testing. Some would disagree with me on this and say that this person has the application domain experience and should be involved in production testing. However, I feel that testing something like this should be documented in a test plan and tested by a separate group. Test cases could be written by this separate group cross-referencing the requirements. That way a different set of eyes could manually test the application outside of the application owners who should only do unit testing.

Is There a Development Process?
As the manager of any software department I would hope so. Hardcore software developers hate processes. I know this from past experience. When I was given an assignment, I wanted to complete it as fast as I could by writing code. If you wanted to know my progress all you had to do was ask. I felt the information in my head was sufficient. However, this kind of thinking makes things very hard when working on a team that's larger than one person. Information has to be communicated from one person to another. The memory of what someone said lasts only so long. Having documentation helps remind an employee of what's required. It helps for reviews and lets an employee hand his work off if something happens and he's pulled from the project.

Without a development process it's even harder to rate employee performance. Who is your best designer? Who is your best coder? By defining a development process, the strengths and weaknesses of each employee can be measured at particular stages of the development process. Running a tool suite that does metrics throughout a development process can be used to measure performance. Tracking and monitoring this kind of information will also help you understand the task force needed for a particular project. For instance, if a manager knows how long it took for an application to be finished with a particular number of employees, it makes it easier to estimate how long it will take those employees on the next project.

The team that I've inherited has an ad hoc development process. There's no standardized format of what's required in each development phase. For instance, Team A could have a requirements document that looks different from Team B's requirements document. Does something like this need to be standardized throughout the development process? Some would argue that as long as there's documentation for each development stage it shouldn't matter. They'd also argue that the format of each document should be up to the project lead. However, if you have employees switching from one team to another, this may become an issue. It may take an employee some time to understand a format that's different from what they used in a prior project. From a management perspective it's always nice to standardize the format in a tool that can run some kind of metrics. For example, if a requirements document is submitted with a tool, metrics could be run on how good the document actually is. When a review is held for the requirements document, the number of problems found in the requirements document could be traced and analyzed by a manager. This could be a perfect way to isolate the employees who have strong requirements-gathering skills. As a manager, I feel it's a priority to make sure our development team has a standardized format for all development process milestones.

Are Swing Applications Old?
First of all why would a manager even care about Swing applications? As long as the development lead knows when to change from Swing to a more Web-centric application, why should a manager even care? The reason I ask this is that you have to remember I come from a technical background. I feel that if a strategic decision has to be made on which technology we should use, I'd like to be part of it. If I were the type of manager who thought Swing was something for my two-year-old son then of course you wouldn't want me in the discussion at all.

We have a number of Swing-based applications that are used by our internal customers and by administration. The Swing-based applications follow a fix process required by every internal developer who wants to create a fix. This fix process is very complicated and requires an internal developer to run a number of the Swing applications so a fix can be created, tested and deployed to external customers. There have been a number of developers who have implemented additional functionality within the Swing applications. Over time, this has made some of the code hard to read. There is logic that is duplicated because a developer was not aware of particular methods that already existed. There are also a number of classes that were implemented that do not fit within the old design because of the changing functionality. Instead of enhancing the old design, now a new design and old design exist within the application. This, of course, has nothing to do with the debate over whether Swing-based applications are old but does create additional work if you were to migrate the applications from Swing to a Web-based tool. Time would have to be spent to understand the differences between the old design and new design. Eventually, a design bringing both of them together would have to be created.


More Stories By Benjamin Garbers

Ben Garbers is currently a 1st line manager at IBM where the department he
manages creates and maintains Java standalone applications and dynamic Java
web applications run on Websphere. Before his management position he was
the lead developer on a number of teams that developed standalone Java
applications.

Comments (4) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Thomas Yung 09/20/06 10:21:49 AM EDT

Added trackback.

Thomas Yung 09/20/06 09:54:22 AM EDT

Great article Ben! Don't get bothered by the last person's comment. Simple is the best way to express things. No need to overcomplicate things.

NAVPREET SINGH 08/18/06 11:09:05 PM EDT

Can't understand what's the point of this article? If written any better, this could have been a mediocre article for a school magazine level - I honestly lost some respect for your magazine with this.....

AJAX News Desk 07/28/06 06:18:18 PM EDT

You're six-feet, 190 pounds and can type System.out.println faster than most people can say AJAX. You're a person who dreams about the Milwaukee Brewers winning the World Series and the correct data structure to be used when talking about a baseball player. You've spent five years of your life writing Java code and leading Java development teams. You consider yourself an expert in Swing, Struts, XML, and XSL-FO and feel comfortable talking about any other buzzword in the Java world such as JSF, Portal, and AJAX. You've had experience as development lead on a team with anywhere from three to seven people where Java applications were rolled into production well within the scheduled deadline. Now you have received a management position on an internal Java development team. Where do you start? What things do you look at from day one? What's your role going to be as a manager? What would you like to see happen within your team? Do you want to keep your technical skills? How do you rate your employees at the end of the year?

@ThingsExpo Stories
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud enviro...
WebRTC sits at the intersection between VoIP and the Web. As such, it poses some interesting challenges for those developing services on top of it, but also for those who need to test and monitor these services. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Tsahi Levent-Levi, co-founder of testRTC, reviewed the various challenges posed by WebRTC when it comes to testing and monitoring and on ways to overcome them.
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, introduced the technologies required for implementing these idea...
Every successful software product evolves from an idea to an enterprise system. Notably, the same way is passed by the product owner's company. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Oleg Lola, CEO of MobiDev, will provide a generalized overview of the evolution of a software product, the product owner, the needs that arise at various stages of this process, and the value brought by a software development partner to the product owner as a response to these needs.
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, discussed the impact of technology on identity. Sho...
Technology vendors and analysts are eager to paint a rosy picture of how wonderful IoT is and why your deployment will be great with the use of their products and services. While it is easy to showcase successful IoT solutions, identifying IoT systems that missed the mark or failed can often provide more in the way of key lessons learned. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Peter Vanderminden, Principal Industry Analyst for IoT & Digital Supply Chain to Flatiron Strategies, will focus on how IoT depl...
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at Dell EMC, introduced a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organization...
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now ...
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, looked at differ...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, John Jelinek IV, a web developer at Linux Academy, will discuss why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers...
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation; Alan Williamson, Principal ...